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Help! Lice crawling all over me after holding sick hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by skylershappyhen, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. skylershappyhen

    skylershappyhen New Egg

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    I know this is horribly gross and sad. We have been loosing hens off n on since October after introducing new hens. It was a rough winter some had respiratory infections. The week before last week one of the newer passed unexpectedly while I was out of town. One has had her tail feathers down since molt and will look drowsy at times then perk up. Another started to close one eye and was not too steady on her feet today. She couldn't jump onto roost so I brought her in. Shes eating and drinking but I decided to give her some dropper vitamins and electrolytes. After holding her I felt like a flea was crawling on my leg and neck. I pulled down my sweats...2 lice... reached in my hsir. Another!!! Im freaking out. Took a shower, going to itch all night. But I wonder if the lice have her sick or if she is passing and they are leaving her body?
    Also they look just like human head lice!!!!!
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Ideally you should have them blood tested to determine which respiratory disease they have, and then treat with appropriate antibiotics. If it's a severe form or type of disease you are likely to continue loosing birds unless you medicate.

    Mites and lice typically won't kill a bird but it's not impossible. They will however weaken birds, and can contribute to the demise of those already sick or weak. I recommend purchasing permethrin dust and dusting all your birds, and applying a squirt of WD-40 under each wing, on the back of the neck, and below the vent after treatment. Got that advice from my avian vet, started using it in my birds and it's a LIFESAVER. Never looking back. Doesn't hurt them at all except leaving a bit of dry skin where it's sprayed.

    As for the lice (based on your description they sound like Common Poultry Lice), yeah they do tend to hop on you when handling the birds. The number of lice that crawl on you usually correlate to the severity of the bird's infestation, actually. A shower pretty much always kills them. The longest they'll ever stay on a person is a couple hours; they can't live on non-avian animals because we are far too cold.
     
  3. skylershappyhen

    skylershappyhen New Egg

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    [​IMG]the louse
     
  4. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yuck!

    Okay, first thing-- you can't get lice from chickens. Won't remove that creepy-crawly feeling, but it is a relief!

    Depending on the species of louse, it could be what is making your birds sick (some suck blood, cause anemia, etc.) or it could be a side effect of sickness because sick chickens don't groom themselves properly. In either case, needs to be treated. All chickens and their housing need treatment. All bedding should be thrown away (in garbage or burned, perferably), the coop cleaned and treated, ditto for the run.
     
  5. skylershappyhen

    skylershappyhen New Egg

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    Thanks forvthe advice so far. Jensownzoo how would you suggest cleaning a dirt floor run? I sprinkle it with diatomaceous earth about once a month just to be safe with stuff. We try to keep everything all natural with organic food because we eat the eggs. However im willing to consider other options if needed. The chickens are pets for the children and this is absolutely disgusting!!!! No touching till I have a plan
     
  6. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    I totally understand trying to use organic methods, and I do the same for my flock (all organic feed and supplements), but parasites are the one place where I will always go chemical. 150 birds in my own flock, and I have never once seen a natural method kill a mite or louse infestation.

    The run doesn't really need to be cleaned so much. Sprinkling DE helps, and wood ash can perform a similar function. Especially around the dust bathing areas. Sand is a great addition to the nesting boxes too; in fact DE, wood ash, and sand would be my top three suggestions for natural parasite preventatives. The coop is the main area you need to be worried about; you should remove all the bedding, including that in the nest boxes, and spray down the roosts with a permethrin liquid spray or WD-40. If it's dirt floor you can spray that down as well.

    A word of caution regarding DE. Only use food grade DE! Non-food grade contains very small, very sharp particles, which can be damaging to the bird's respiratory symptoms if inhaled frequently. Food grade still contains these particles, but far fewer of them. Had this information repeated to me from a poultry expert with a PhD just yesterday at a seminar.
     
  7. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If it's just dirt, then keep treating the chickens until the louse life cycle is complete. DE will help, but not if it's moist. I don't know how your ground is right now, but mine is absolutely soggy! You can also use the permethrin dust that QueenMisha suggested in the run, but if you use that product I probably would throw the next month's eggs away. The good news about it is that it also gets most of the chicken mites as well, just in case your birds are infested with parasites other than just lice.

    For future control, you can add a bit of sulfur to their dust bath. Some recommend DE here, but I think that too much will be inhaled when they are getting a really good bath in. Sulfur would keep your eggs organic.
     
  8. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Not trying to argue or start anything, I do respect your opinion, but I've been using permethrin for years (my boss has used it for decades) and I have never once heard of an egg withdrawal period used for it (since it's topical and doesn't really enter the bird internally in any way?), nor seen, smelled, or tasted any kind of residue on or in eggs, even when eating them the day after treatment. If you have do a source for your information I'd love a link to it, if not I'd appreciate hearing your reasoning behind that idea.
     
  9. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    "When topically applied, pyrethroids are absorbed and widely distributed to tissues, but concentrate particularly in fat and skin (Hunt et al., 1979; Braun et al., 1981; Heitzman, 1997, 2000). Residues in skin and fat are very persistent, as are residues in the egg yolk (Hunt et al., 1979; Braun et al., 1981) (Table 12)."

    The portion containing reference to pyrethrins/pyrethroids starts on page 25, the quote is from page 28.
    http://www.farad.org/publications/miscellaneous/layinghenseggresidues.pdf

    It's a really nice paper summarizing the data regarding medication residues in egg-layer, published in 2011 so the info isn't completely outdated.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
    2 people like this.
  10. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    This is incredibly interesting and also a bit angering. I've never, once, EVER seen this information anywhere else. Certainly there are no stated egg withdrawals on the canisters, despite having bought from multiple brands and stores over the years. I've never seen this mentioned, discussed, or brought up either, not here on BYC, not on any other poultry website, not even by the poultry professionals I've met and talked to.

    I'll be taking this paper into my avian & poultry veterinarian during my next appointment with her and discussing it with her. Again, thanks for the link. Aside from my anger over its current implications, I'm going to be going over it fully later on today.
     

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